Arielle Dubissette-Borrice has an undeniable passion for rugby. Having had an extensive playing career, Arielle can now be found on the pitch coaching, and helping young players achieve their dreams, while dedicating herself to the growth of rugby in the Toronto area.
A crossover athlete, Arielle pursued basketball, volleyball, track & field, and lacrosse. She discovered rugby 13 years ago and fell in love with the sport that allowed her to become the powerful athlete she always yearned to be. Introduced to the sport in high school, Arielle played for her province at the age of 16, joining the national team two years later at the age of 18. Of her experience, Arielle remarked, “I excelled quickly and that is simply because I was playing on so many teams at once. I am very fortunate to say that I took every opportunity to play with the best, so that I could be one of the best.”
During her playing years, Arielle also ventured into the realm of coaching. In her last year of high school, she was able to partner with another coach and introduce rugby as a new sport to Westview High School in Toronto. Arielle credits this achievement with her love for coaching, leading her to build an impressive resume including 5 high schools, 3 post-secondary schools, a provincial team, and the Women’s Team at the York University, where Arielle is currently the assistant coach.
Of her diverse coaching career, Arielle commented, “Coaching a variety age groups is something I find amazing because I love seeing the different skill levels and experiences. Since my passion is building grassroots rugby in our inner-city neighbourhoods, developing relationship with a variety of youths and adults allows me to create and integrate clinics and exhibition tournaments/games. My favourite things about the different groups I am coaching is the comradery between the athletes. I love to see the personal growth and team growth that occurs as time goes by. I love witnessing big moments like the first-time experiences when it comes to travelling to overnight tournaments.”
It’s through coaching that Arielle realized the avenues presented through each players heritage. While she was fortunate to play for Canada, she is aware that many players may wish to represent other countries, or may find more opportunities in doing so. “I was able to get involved with playing on the international teams because of how I was recruited at a club rep game. Retiring from the Canadian national team I still had the drive to play elsewhere and at similar high elite level. My first opportunity to do this was for Jamaica at a local tournament and we did phenomenal. Since then, I have been extremely invested in growing the sport of rugby in Toronto amongst our visible minority to open the opportunity for them to represent small islands, if their goal is not to represent Canada.”
As heritage players have increased in popularity, Arielle hasn’t noticed an increase in women looking to pursue these opportunities, something she believes can be attributed to the recruitment carried out by smaller islands. “I feel like time and a well thought out plan needs to be executed in order to truly seek out all of the talent on the islands. Strategically introducing the sport of rugby in ways that also don’t highlight the physicality of the game would be effective.” Arielle hopes to continue finding opportunities through player heritage.
Looking forward, Arielle is feeling positive about what her future holds. “In my current rugby roles, I hope to develop the skill of my high-performance athletes. I also hope to grow the sport of rugby more grassroots in our local NIA neighbourhoods in Toronto. Playing for ROOTS, I will also be growing the relationship we have in showcasing more athletes to be a part of that phenomenal African American team. Now that the COVID-19 the restrictions are slowly disappearing, I will hopefully regain access to facilities, however, to seek athletes again will be somewhat of challenge, ensuring everyone feels comfortable performing during tournaments, games and practices.”